Have you ever been touched by someone's story and found real inspiration woven through their words? I find telling stories moving, healing and releasing both as the author and the reader. I know when I wrote my Awakening at the Edge I thoroughly enjoyed the meandering journey I had to take to express my experiences. People have since told me about the impact it has had on them when they jumped into its pages.
Conversations with a Butterfly is a huge supporter of healing stories, both in helping create them and the sharing of their inspirations. So, when someone has the courage to write to me to share their experiences, their pain, their footsteps and their evolution, I feel so honoured.
This week a lady I used to work with got in touch to tell me about her experiences over the last couple of years and I was so touched by her narrative, I asked if we could share it. So, here it is. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did and can find some comfort in realising that wherever you are in your life's story, there is always new ending that you can create.
The middle of 2013 saw me drop to a deep low after six months of working 50-60 hours a week (rarely taking a lunch break), conducting two staff dismissals, having a grievance raised against me from a colleague (and friend) who didn't like her annual appraisal score at the end of 2012. This subsequently dragged on for five months and went all the way to the top tier of management - the grievance was eventually proven unfounded but the damage caused to my psyche was immeasurable. I also held responsibility for twelve people and was working alongside a bullying, aggressive and unsupportive peer manager, whose main aim in life appeared to be to make my working life much more difficult than it needed to be.
I wasn't sleeping, it was affecting my relationship with my partner of three years, I wasn't exercising (didn't have time for that) and eating far too much, to comfort the pain I was in. I started to turn everything that was happening in on myself, clinging desperately to my beliefs that I could cope with anything and that the energy I was expending on both my work and trying to fix the poisonous peer manager relationship would not be wasted. I believed that it must have been me, I was not good enough and couldn't do the job. I had spent a lot of my life with the 'no talent police' knocking at my door and now I had finally had to let them in - the game was up and I would be found guilty of my crime - I surrender.
I broke, one gloriously sunny morning in August 2013. I sunk into a deep crevice of tears, pain, self flagellation and total disappointment in myself and others. Like Karen's story, it took an amazing partner to say....."should you really be doing this?" as I tried to crawl out of bed ridiculously early that August morning, fighting back tears, vowing that I would not let 'this' beat me and that I wasn't giving in and that I WAS GOING TO WORK - how could I not - this is what we do? I cried, she cried and begged me to listen as she felt that I was not hearing her concerns for me, as I was so hell bent on proving to myself that I could do it! What was 'it'; 'it' was a reality that had been created by my parents, society but most of all me.
But it wasn't the reality that I wanted or more importantly needed to help me be who I am meant to be. So I looked over the edge (to quote Karen) and I jumped......so many fears, worries, excitement, anticipation. I started working a few hours a week again for a local charity (I had trained to be a bereavement counsellor in 2010) but this time instead of working with adults I got the opportunity to work weekly with a bunch of 5-10 year olds who had experienced the loss of a parent. So much sadness and pain for these kids and yet so much light, laughter and sheer joy emanating from them. I started to feed and water my confidence and realise an ambition I have had for over fifteen years - to work with 'troubled kids'. Week after week I reflected on what this felt like and what I had been holding on to all these years. Letting go! I couldn't let go, this was a pattern repeated time and time again in my life. Holding on to my last relationship two years too long, battling through the Corporate years........why?
Simple! As a child, my parents had made my mistakes for me, stopped me taking risks, did my dirty work for me, let me give up on things at a whim in their efforts to love and protect. As an adult I used this (subliminally) to change the pattern I had been programmed with and took it to its extreme by NEVER giving up on situations or people. I was proud of this attitude and lived by it.....all the time ignoring me and giving up on what really made me happy. In January 2013, I applied for and secured a role as a Cycling Safety Instructor with the primary schools, term time only. Ten Great British Pounds an hour, no pension, no sick pay. I get to wear a high visibility jacket, cargo pants and hang around with nine and ten year olds outside all day (and in all weathers I may add; this is, after all, the Isle of Man!) And do you know - I would do it for a fiver an hour. One smile from one kid who gets an 'A' in his final assessment, one look of sheer achievement as a nervous kid gets her right turn manoeuvre correct for the first time, one high five from another kid who says that they never thought that they could balance on a bike as well as stick an arm out to indicate for three seconds. I don't need bi- annual appraisals, future potential positions or high salaries. This is the stuff dreams are made of for me - our future in the shape of younger children, eager, excited, trusting, honest (sometimes brutally) but most of all 'real'.
For the first time in longer than I can remember, I don't have a plan, but I have another journey. Once I stopped fighting the universe, let go and surrendered, the things that are meant for me dropped right on my path, bang smack in front of me, pleading with me not to ignore them. I didn't.